tv Washington Journal Seth Waxman CSPAN August 23, 2018 1:28pm-2:07pm EDT
>> i think more than ever for hawaii, we need to continue to promote the spirit, which is a life form. a little hot meaning kindness, entity, , andableness, humility patience. if we can all promote a live spirit, we aloha could all be in a better place here not only in the city or state, but across the nation. >> join us october 6 and october 7 when we will feature our visit to hawaii. c-span.org, or, listen on the c-span radio app. seth waxman has served as an assistant u.s. attorney here in washington and criminal defense attorney, joins us now to take your legal questions about palm and afford and michael cohen.
i want to start the charges that have garnered the most attention, the campaign-finance violations that michael cohen pled guilty to. can you explain the exact laws that he broke and why this seems to be -- the charges are getting the most attention? guest: there limits on campaign contributions so the system is transparent so the american public and see who is cuter meeting -- contribute in. if an injury vigil -- if an individual donates over certain amount, that history reported. it is for transparency sake. there was a $130,000 payment that were funneled through star, toto the porn mistress and not reported. michael cohen has played guilty. post: the obama campaign had campaign-finance violations that were takien care of with a
fine. why was that a fine? oranges. is apples and there was delegation president obama was in any way individually involved in the campaign-finance missteps. they were those those were more technical violations, that were reporting within 48 hours of campaign donations. in fact mr. trump had those same , kind of issues come up, and those just resulted in fines. in mr. trump's case, you have an individual who is funneling money through a surreptitious ways, and that is what mr. cohen is pleading guilty do. host: what sort of legal exposure does this create for president trump? guest: that is a difficult question. there's a good debate on whether a sitting president can be indicted. i am under the opinion that he cannot come in the constitution was set for impeachment
process, because prosecutors not offend the country's election decision. there is some debate and some legal scholars disagree. i think the legal exposure could be impeachment proceedings. host: the plea deal, is this usually a precursor for more cooperation down the road? guest: this is a really unusual situation. i've never seen an individual go and plead to eight counts without an agreement on the table. to me he is not cooperating at this time. mr. davis, his lawyer, has set as much. the idea, cooperate and we will pick one key charge, or maybe three different counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign, but to have eight counts indicates to me that he is not cooperating. host: we are taking your calls and questions, if you have them, about either the michael cohen
or the paul manafort case. for republicans, it is (202) 748-8001, democrats (202) 748-8000, independents (202) 748-8002. i want to change tracks to the manafort conviction, how did you read that conviction on eight charges of the 18 he was originally charged with? guest: that is a sweeping victory for the government. it's not all counts, but it's major counts. he is facing significant jail time. given his age, it could be can't about to a death sentence. as a former prosecutor, you'd like to get all 18 counts. obviously we are hearing from one of the jurors that there was a lone holdout. that happens. but at the end of the day, the -- these are significant convictions and it achieved the government's primary goal to try to flip paul manafort. host: do you think that is going to happen now? we had conversations in the last hour about a potential pardon from the president. do think that is something paul manafort is holding out for?
guest: in every case of ever been involved in, 100% i would say there is no other path for him. he's got to get a deal. he can't face 10 or 20 years in jail. the x factor, of course, is the pardon. i don't think any expert can really predict what mr. trump is going to do in that regard. host: walk us through the next steps for paul manafort. it is a little confusing as to what happens with these eight charges and what he's facing in his case here in d.c. next month. guest: will face sentencing, typically 60 to 90 days out. because there is another case pending, it may be pushed out after that trial. he will sentence under a sentencing guideline regime that is kind of complicated. he could be facing anywhere from 10 to 20 years, depending on how the judge stacks the crimes. host: do those 10 other charges the jury couldn't come to a
conclusion on just go away? does the mueller team ever try to try those down the road? guest: they have the option. they can ask the judge to recharge. -- to retry those cases, or recharge, rather. whether they will practically do so depends on if he cooperates, gets a pardon, and just judicial and prosecutorial resources. if they go forward with the d.c. trial first and they get convictions, they may say he is now facing 30 or 40 years, do we need to try him on 10 more counts? probably not. host: seth waxman with us to take your questions. you served as assistant u.s. attorney here in d.c. and also argued cases in front of the same judge that manafort appeared in front of. guest: i have been in that courthouse, not arguing in front of judge ellis. i have been in status hearing. but not actually a trial. host: give us your thoughts on how judge ellis perform in that case. guest: he was clearly an active judge, giving his advice and opinions. i think he crossed the line when he commented on the credibility of a witness. that is really not the judge's role.
in my experience, i have been in front of active judges, as long as the judge doesn't cross the line and give the jury the impression that the prosecutors are playing unfair or doing things underhanded -- i mean, jurors react very badly if they get the idea that the government is playing fast and loose. i don't think he did that come and maybe that is why we saw convictions in this case. host: a lawyer was experience both in prosecution and defense, so let's take some calls. terry in woodbridge, illinois, republican, good morning. caller: good morning. i would like to ask a couple of questions on the president's campaign. isn't it true that a president can spend whatever amount of money that he wants on his own campaign? and isn't it true that when it comes to businessmen, that they usually do have lawyers that handle certain things for them, like for instance, people trying to get free money from them and everything? and isn't it true that he did pay that money back to his lawyer, and his lawyer usually
bills him as expense accounts and everything? guest: very good questions. there's a lot of controversy over a lot of the things being said. mr. giuliani essentially offered up the same comments. the reality is that a candidate can spend as much as they want on their campaign, but they would have to disclose that. so there would be accountability. when you look at this matter, the money that mr. cohen paid at mr. trump's direction, according to mr. cohen, was done for payments for porn stars and mistresses. if this were funds used for signs and things, maybe you would say the lawyer was acting as an agent. saying look, i do not have the cash and do you mind fronting it? this is circumstantially, the nature of this transaction, is under nefarious intent. of course, mr. cohen testified
to that in court. and finally, this is donald trump's justice department. this isn't in some rogue entity or third-party country. these are political appointees of mr. trump. the head of the southern district of new york, is a person mr. trump appointed. it is a little bit disingenuous for him to talk all this of a witchhunt when it is his team bringing the charges. host: how often is the justice department pursuing felony campaign-finance charges in general? guest: not often. i will not suggest this is an everyday run-of-the-mill thing. when i was a federal prosecutor, there wasn't a single case in d.c. with this kind of focus on campaign-finance. we are dealing with bribery, white-collar theft kind of crimes. that's not because the laws are not on the books and shouldn't be enforced. john edwards is one example. there are many other cases where there is prosecution for criminal conduct, it is simply not typically overspending on a campaign limit.
there is typically something much more involved when you bring criminal charges. host: to california, connie, an independent. caller: good morning. all of this money that was paid to the porn stars or whatever they are, was it campaign money or was it president trump's own money? and also, when clinton was president, ok, all this happened with that young lady. i can't remember her name. and all this talk about impeachment. why aren't they bringing the all that up? that is so hush-hush. i'm sorry, but thank you. guest: sure. the first part of your question had to do with the payment to the porn stars. was that campaign money or president trump's personal money? it is more along the lines of president trump's personal money. it came out of a corporate fund, but there is not any suggestion it came out of a pac for mr.
trump or a campaign organization. i think she was referring to monica lewinsky. there were impeachment proceedings with mr. clinton, so it did get to that point. whether this rises to impeachment proceedings, that is where we are at right now. host: marcia, in florida, a democrat. caller: good morning. i would like to ask mr. waxman if there isn't anything suspicious about that one juror holdout for the 10 other charges because manafort had a reputation for witness tampering. he had an ankle bracelet, but he was still roaming around. it just seems extremely, based on what that woman said on fox news yesterday, that regardless how much the other 11 jurors tried to point out to her all the paper trails, she just was flat out refused to accept it. i would be suspicious of a juror
of that nature not having some kind of connection with in the trump party. host: for those who do not watch fox news, one juror reported that there was one holdout for the remaining 10 counts in an exclusive interview yesterday. guest: i understand the thought process there. i think that is unlikely because that juror did convict on eight counts. if the fix was in, if someone had really gotten to that juror, you would assume they would have held out on all 18 counts and there would have been a hung trial. for whatever reason, and the logic behind it seems difficult for us to digest on the outside as to why this individual juror was willing to convict on eight counts but not the other 10, but i don't see any indication of witness tampering or jury tampering here.
host: is the mueller team doing some monday morning quarterbacking on their jury selection process after this interview? guest: it is interesting. my thought before is that judge ellis wanted to move this court quickly. it is called the rocket docket. i have been in that courthouse, no question they move quickly. i think he went particularly too fast on jury selection. in a case of this magnitude with this atmosphere coming to pick a jury in half a day, you really don't get to hear a juror speak. typically the prosecutor and defense would get to ask what they do for a living in here thatd here --hear person's voice. i think they would be wanting a longer jury selection process at a minimum. host: why the rocket docket? why does that court act that way? guest: it is a reputation. it is a good question as to where that originated. i know that judge brian has been on that courthouse for a very long time. it is a very reputable, highly regarded court. they take their speed with which they bring cases through very seriously.
frankly, i think it does a lot of good in most cases. sometimes prosecutors become too enamored with their evidence and start to believe, and sometimes example of that is the o.j. simpson trial, a no witness trial. host: bonnie is in maryland. a republican. good morning. caller: this with stormy daniels is ridiculous. she provided a service. she was overpaid for it, and that should be the end of it. her lawyer avenatti is nothing more than a walking billboard because she's making millions off of stripping and providing her service. host: got your point. guest: what stormy daniels background was in her conduct, that is a separate question as to whether someone violated the law. if mr. trump or mr. cohen funneled campaign contributions to miss daniels or anyone else
despite what they may do for a , career and how much money they are making office, the justice department will take cases and make charges where there is law and facts to support it. do you think michael avenatti is a good attorney for stormy daniels? guest: he is certainly a strong advocate, and his case is unique. he is fighting fire with fire. it is not my style so much, but he's being effective. host: charles in north carolina , republican. go ahead. caller: good morning. it seems like a sign of desperation to go back and look at white-collar crimes that happened many years before the campaign to go after. it looks like mueller is squeezing anybody has any connection with the trump campaign on unrelated charges. we are talking about taxing and -- taxi medallions, and payments
to playboy models, but there is no russian collusion after two years. we keep looking for something. i think that if we had squeezed the clinton campaign and john podesta and all these people around the clinton campaign has hard and as tough as we are, everybody in the periphery, just to go after everybody and try to squeeze them for any information about emails, we would have a different outcome on that investigation. also with chris collins, let's talk about nancy pelosi's insider trading. we let her go, and now suddenly -- because he's a supporter of trump. host: you are going in and out there in the end, but i think we got your point. guest: on the idea of desperation, in my experience, conspiracies don't drop out of the sky in the spring of 2016. there's a reason the russians were willing and felt comfortable to reach out to the trump team, and why the trump team felt comfortable
entertaining those calls. a lot of times, in my experience, it is because there's a back story. what we saw in the alexandria court, while not directly related to the month leading to the election, can provide a background as to why conspiracy starts and why people are comfortable working together. i don't think it is completely disjointed or disconnected from what we heard in alexandria, from the miller investigation. -- the mueller investigation. one of the other points on squeezing individuals, that has a pejorative sense to it, but that is what federal prosecutors do. if people are caught up in criminal conduct and they can provide information on other criminal investigations, that is the meat and potatoes. that is how federal prosecutions work and how investigations occur. is in the context of the -- it is in the context of the president so it is getting a lot of attention, but that is happening everyday in every jurisdiction in this country right now. host: the caller brought up congressman chris collins. who has more to worry about, congressman chris collins or congressman duncan hunter? guest: that is a tough one. congressman collins seems to be
a solid case. matter, ie other would not want to be in either their shoes. as a defense counselor you would have to be creative in both situations. host: andy is in virginia. good morning. caller: good morning. a couple of things. one, the so-called ladies he had an agreement with, to me, it is nothing short of blackmail. if we agree to a contract, but you come out when you do something along those lines, that is blackmail. that is number one. number two, my suspicion is attorney mueller is not going to find anything because it is going to lead right back to maybe nothing short of the former president. it is going to lead back to hillary clinton. it is going to lead back to the fbi. and that is not what they want. there is no way that they are going to find any collusion without it leading back to the
original source, that is where it is going to come to. guest: on the blackmail idea, frankly, nondisclosure agreements are signed every day in this country in all kinds of contexts. we might not feel good about it, but people separate from their companies all the time and agree not to speak ill of individuals and not bring any civil actions against them. that happens all the time. there are reasons why those may or may not be enforceable. i think we've heard a lot from mr. avenatti on that point. as to the mueller investigation that coming up with anything, obviously that is a common refrain, a witchhunt. what i would say to that, generally, is we don't know. i don't think any of us know. mr. mueller, and whatever ambience -- evidence he is sitting on, i think everyone needs to hold judgment until we get that report, and then we could be educated and offer up what i would consider a more pointed criticism or critique of whatever he has. host: that witchhunt refrain came up again last night in the
1:00 a.m. hour on the east coast from the president of the united states on his twitter page. "no collusion rigged witchhunt." less than 10 minutes left with seth waxman taking your questions about the manafort investigation and convictions, about the cohen guilty plea this week. time for a few more calls. republicans, it is (202) 748-8001, democrats (202) 748-8000, independents (202) 748-8002. as folks are calling in, i did want to ask about the cohen guilty plea. why was that case moved through the southern district of new york? what was the legal reasoning? guest: mr. mueller has a mandate to investigate russian collusion or conspiracy leading up to the election. he made a determination that this was significantly separate from that and it was more properly prosecuted by a separate office. host: and what does that mean for what happens going forward? are they still cooperating on evidence gathered and what they
can charge with depending on what court they are in? guest: 100%. anything any federal prosecutor does they can share with others in the justice department, state and local officials. everything going on in the southern district, we should all assume, is going right to mr. mueller's office. probably more measured out. maybe they have a weekly call or something, unless there is something really momentous. whatever is happening in fdny is being funneled back to the mueller investigation. caller: good morning. tom, in massachusetts on the democrat line. the question i have, if money is speech and corporations are people, aren't governments people? and therefore, isn't all of this unconstitutional? can't people make secret speech? and is hacking a private institution's email any different than recording a
conversation in a private auditorium for donors? so mr. cavanaugh and the supreme court, might we not see 5-4 the whole campaign conservation law totally thrown out as unconstitutional? what do you think? host: big legal questions there. guest: good ones. the government is not a person under the law. there are different legal standards. and donations have been determined to be speech for almost the mid-1970's now by the court, and that does apply to individuals like you and i, and corporations. different standards for government institutions. the hacking and recording a private conversation really kind of apples and oranges. hacking, of course, is unauthorized intrusion into a computer system. recording a conversation, in some states you have to have both party's consent. other states you have to have one party's consent.
so the recordings by mr. cohen is a one-party consent state in new york. and in a public space like an auditorium, you don't have a right of privacy. so right now as this is being recorded i don't have a right of privacy to this conversation. i think that is, again, apples and oranges. host: are most states one-party consent? guest: most states are one-party consent. there are 12 or 13 that are not. maryland, for example, is a two-party consent state. we couldn't record this conversation unless you knew it and i knew it. in d.c., i can have a tape recorder recording you right now and you couldn't do anything about it. host: when does that legal decision to back to in these states? is it something that was set up back in the last century? guest: after alexander graham bell? i'm not really sure. that is a good question i would have to look into, why some of these laws were adopted and some didn't.
my clients are always asking what can i do today? host: tina is in alabama, republican. good morning. caller: good morning. in one-party consent who are you consenting with? that just seems folly. it seems every time president trump speaks, there's an elegant truth to what he says. -- an element of truth to what he says. if he's trying to avoid something, wouldn't he be changing the story if he were lying? that i have a question. is mueller is investigating russian collusion in our elections, where in the world is the investigation into the hacking of the russians into the dnc computers, to john podesta, to uranium one with hillary and bill? how much, $225 million from the russians? please help me understand this. guest: on the last question about the investigation into hacking and the dust and idiocy into the desta -- into desta
--podesta dnc emails, i think that is very much a part of what he's looking at. the hacking into the dnc emails, i think that is very much a part of what he's looking at. the idea that wooden trumpet changing his story, i think it's fair to say he does change his story a lot pre-not to because or flippant, but as a former federal prosecutor, and prosecutors receive instruction on the solid time, but it shows consciousness of guilt. a jury is allowed to consider a changing story to go to the state of mind of the defendant. if someone was charged, so these changing stories are very difficult to digest for the american public, and from a prosecutor's perspective, is evidence. host: how many years did you do -- were you a former federal prosecutor? guest: 13. host: did you have a specialty? guest: violent crime and corruption. host: why do you turn to
criminal defense? i always wanted to try cases in the courtroom. it has been interesting. i work at a law firm down here in d.c. host: barbara is in tennessee, a republican. good morning. caller: hi. i just wanted to ask, do you know what really started this off? it was when mueller was turned down for an interview for a second or third go around for fbi director. but that was when he was turned down. and the very next day, rosenstein and mueller started this special investigation. do you know that? and this has gone every direction but russian collusion or whatever they intended it for. guest: that is a constant refrain will hear from advocates -- we will hear from advocates
for the president. trying to be as independent and objective as i can, mr. mueller has a storied career. he's been a career prosecutor for decades. he was a decorated veteran, a war hero. i will tell you he worked in the u.s. attorney's office here in d.c., where i worked. he was a little earlier than i was by a year or two, but by all accounts, from people i know that know him well, he is of the highest moral character and integrity. the timeline your caller laid out does miss a number of important steps before mr. mueller was actually appointed to be the special counsel, and obviously selected by rod rosenstein, not donald trump. i think there's a number of steps missed in the analysis. host: have you ever met bob mueller? guest: i have not. host: did you know rod rosenstein? guest: i did not. i am speaking only to reputation. i do know people know him, and i have a lot of respect for the people who i'm referring to. host: do you know anyone working on this probe? guest: i do know several of them, and for my experience they
are of high moral character and doing things as career prosecutors do because there's law and facts, and that is it. wherever the evidence leads them. host: what do we do about how they do that job, where they work out of? are they in d.c.? give us a sense of the day for them? guest: they are here in d.c., the special counsel's office is. mr. mueller is notorious for having very early meetings when he was at my office. a good friend of mine reported to him directly, and when he walked into mr. mueller's office, you better have your ducks in a row. it's a three to four minute meeting, you better make your points. if you are wrong, you are going to regret it. if you are right, you better be able to back it up. it is a no-nonsense atmosphere. host: maxine in michigan, independent. good morning. caller: good morning. thank you for taking my call.
in respect to this cohen and manafort case, i look at this as two little parts of a jigsaw puzzle. this whole mess in washington frightens me. it really, really frightens me that these people with the power can force people to do what they want them to do to obtain their end, which is to impeach and get rid of trump and negate millions of people's votes. that is frightening to me. if they can do that to these people who have money like manafort and cohen, what will they do to average lunchbox joe or jane like myself? host: maxine, is it the special counsel that you don't trust
specifically, or the entire justice department? caller: the entire justice department. everything that is going on his -- is plain on his face. host: what you think of the attorney general jeff sessions? caller: he is not doing anything, really. host: in what way? caller: i don't know. i don't know why he's silent. it is frightening what is going on in our country. it really is frightening to me, is just a plain citizen who is watching all of this and seeing it. guest: that is a sentiment that is, given by polls, about 30% to 40% of the country. it is a voice that is out there, and that everyone has to one recognize and that president trump relies on. part of my comment would be that we have not seen all of the evidence. i will just tell you we are seeing the tip of the iceberg of what bob mueller actually has.
with all respect to the callers and people out there that are a part of that 30% or 40%, i would ask to hold judgment and see what is actually there. if at the end of the day, the evidence isn't there, it is my opinion that the case won't be brought. but just one last thought to what would your caller and others talk today about richard nixon? was he wrongly indicted as a co-conspirator? was he objectified? was he unfairly treated ? or was it a person who stepped away from the office because he was about to be impeached for righteous reasons. if the people agree that that was a righteous series of events based on the conduct, hold judgment here. host: how concerned is the justice apartment about public trust in the justice system? guest: 100%. morale is not good. to have the leader of the country, the leader of the justice department, everyday calling the justice department a witchhunt, specifically
identifying prosecutors and agents and the attorney general himself and calling them not men and degrading them this way. i would just suggest if you thought about where you work everyday at if your boss came in and treated your senior staff, you individually, how would that be an environment to work? the good news is i believe those line prosecutors, career prosecutors and agents, will follow the law and the facts and take it where it leads them. host: daniel has been waiting in chicago on the line for democrats. caller: good morning. i find this comical. this is totally ridiculous that i have to sit here and know that 40% of america is this backwards. they act like they don't see that this man lies to them every day left and right. he degrades his own justice department when they don't do what he expects to do. everything he does is criminal.
everybody around him is criminal. face the facts, the man is a criminal and he is laughing at you. no matter how you voted, you are destroying this country by supporting someone who is criminal. host: we will give you the last 30 seconds. guest: that of the other 60% to 70% of the country. today you have mr. trump out there saying that people who flip are criminals, and it is people like manafort standing tall who are doing the right thing. that is backwards. there is no justification for that statement. that is a statement coming from a criminal defendant, in my mind. that is someone in the criminal crosshairs, not a president. for my last analogy, that is tony soprano or michael corleone, a mob boss, that people who flipped our rats. acceptedhen responsibility. for the president to essentially collect illegal is a shame. host: seth waxman, former federal prosecutor, appreciate your time this morning.
guest: thank you. lied this afternoon at the hudson institute here in washington, d.c. for a panel discussion on the current political climate in afghanistan. panelists are expected to discuss the trump administration's policy towards the region, the ongoing war between the taliban and afghanistan, and possible peace talks expected with the taliban month in moscow. less coverage is expected to start just a moment. [murmuring]
>> we have an expert at the federal grudging process, he works with congress on that issue and other issues. if you have questions about the federal budgeting process, now would be a good time to call in for this segment of the washington journal. give us an overview of how the budgeting process is supposed to work over the course of the fiscal year.
guest: every year the president is supposed to put out his budget, his blueprint about how things are supposed to work. april, they are supposed to have the budget resolution in congress, and by early summer, they are supposed to be working on their appropriation bills, which are supposed to be wrapped up on december 30. ideally. host: we are in late summer now, are we working that way this year? >> congress is working better than he usually does, the senate is actually moving, even now, it's moving towards some spending bills being done. congress does not usually get the work done, there has only been four fiscal years where that has gotten done in time for the end of the fiscal year. host: what are fiscal years and how long? year was in 97 when
they lasted that. aboutou hear people talk regular order, what is it when you have only done it regularly four times. why does the process keep breaking down? guest: congress was not designed to be something that moves things quickly. the founders did not give us a system that was designed to move things in an expeditious way. you have a lot of contentious points along the way. peoplehave 500 and 35 who are elected -- 500 35 people from all over the country, a republican from alabama is not the same as a republican from california and the same with democrats. had he expect them to come together and say this is all of our priorities -- how do you expect them to come together and say this is all of our priorities? and people talk about the kitchen table analogy, people have to work out a budget and social congress, but we know from discourse -- divorce rates
in this country, marital problems, and our natural trying to do a budget at home it's difficult to sit down with two people and do a budget at home. i think when we collect congress to get it done, we are expecting a lot. host: as we sit here in late august, where are we for folks who have been watching, how many spending bills have been approved, which ones and what still needs to be approved? guest: this month, the senate is anding done with defense labor, health, and education. good afternoon, i'm husain , the senior fellow director of seven central asia at the hudson institute. for the last two decades in afghanistan, there has been civil war, instability, and an unen